Motion to Take Note
My Lords, for some years careers education has been the poor relation of education provision. The Digital Skills Committee, on which I served, described it as “patchy”; later, the Social Mobility Committee found that it was “failing young people greatly”. A study quoted in the Government’s new careers strategy found that fewer than two-thirds of year 11 students said they had received any careers education, and only half of those were satisfied. A 2013 Ofsted report found that too few schools are providing careers guidance that meets the needs of all their students.
Yet good careers education and guidance are crucial: first, for individuals to help them widen their aspirations, fulfil their potential and achieve rewarding and satisfying lives; secondly, for the economy, to ensure that we have the right skills and talents to meet our national needs for innovation, productivity, growth and competitiveness in a fast-changing world of work; and, thirdly, for social mobility, so that no one, whatever their background or circumstances, is held back by lack of awareness of opportunities available and how to pursue them.
For some years before joining this House, I ran a small business providing employability training and support to young Londoners, mostly NEET—not in education, employment or training. I saw for myself the challenges of giving them meaningful guidance for their future life and work directions and the skills and attitudes necessary to pursue them. I claim no specialist expertise beyond that, but I am pleased to have obtained this debate and much look forward to the contributions of speakers with much greater knowledge and experience and to the response of the Minister.
I am of course delighted that my noble friend Lady Bull has chosen to make her maiden speech in the debate, and I am sure that she will bring a valuable perspective to it. I am also grateful to the many organisations and individuals working in the field in many capacities who have provided me with input, not least Claudia Harris and her colleagues at the Careers & Enterprise Company—the CEC.
I hope that today’s debate will serve to highlight the current state of careers education and some of the challenges needing to be addressed to achieve the Government’s aim of making it world-class. My own focus will be mainly on careers education in schools in England.
Today’s young people will find themselves in a highly complex world when they leave education. Work patterns are shifting, digital technology and automation affect nearly every occupation, skills need regular updating and lifetime jobs are a thing of the past. To succeed, they need a clear and realistic understanding of the opportunities available and of how to develop the skills and qualities they need to grasp them and progress. That is what careers education is about, and why I believe it to be a key aspect of government policy—up there with related policies on skills, technical education, apprenticeships and industrial strategy, all of which are dependent for their success on a solid foundation of careers education.
In 2011, responsibility for careers education was transferred from local authorities to schools and colleges, but without any associated extra funding. Unsurprisingly, the initial result was a significant decline in the overall standard of provision, as schools sought to tackle this new role within existing budgets. Teachers are not the right people to deliver careers education; most have neither the skills nor experience needed. That is why schools need access to independent, impartial careers guidance from trained and qualified professionals.
There are now clear signs of a new optimism and energy in the careers education field, not least thanks to the groundwork laid by the CEC since its establishment in 2014, and leading up to the Government’s long-awaited careers strategy, announced last December. The strategy has been widely welcomed, and an Ofsted report earlier this year found that,
“careers guidance within schools is improving”,
“The publication of the careers strategy has given schools and colleges a solid framework to build their careers offer around”.
In January, the Government issued statutory guidance for all maintained schools and academies on how they should deliver careers education. All schools should have a formal careers programme, published on their website and headed by a named careers leader. It should be based on the eight Gatsby benchmarks set out in Sir John Holman’s 2014 report for the Gatsby Foundation, which have won almost universal acceptance as a template for high-quality careers education. They are: a stable careers programme; learning from career and labour market information; addressing the needs of each student; linking curriculum learning to careers, so that careers education is embedded throughout the curriculum, especially in STEM subjects; encounters with employers and employees; experiences of workplaces; encounters with further and higher education; and personal guidance.
Schools should measure their progress against these benchmarks using the Compass online assessment tool, developed by CEC. Almost 3,000 of the 3,800 schools in England are already using Compass, and the number achieving some or all of the eight benchmarks is rising markedly. The Government’s laudable, if optimistic, expectation is that every school should meet all eight benchmarks by the end of 2020. Schools are strongly encouraged to work towards an updated quality in careers standard, administered by the Quality in Careers Consortium.
CEC is also funded to provide up to 500 bursaries to help schools identify and train their careers leaders. Demand looks likely to comfortably exceed this figure, an encouraging sign that schools are engaging with the strategy, but which also raises the issue of how this demand can be met.
The strategy also covers the creation and support of 20 careers hubs around England, modelled on a two-year pilot with 16 schools and colleges in the north-east. After two years, 88% of them were achieving at least six of the benchmarks, with three schools achieving all eight; none was achieving more than three at the start. The new hubs will focus their activities on groups of young people and areas most in need of targeted support, to help deliver improvements in social mobility.
A major, and very welcome, theme of the strategy is the need for careers education to introduce young people to a range of different work opportunities and environments through encounters with employers and workplace experiences—the sort of thing I was doing in my former life. The guidance states that every pupil should have at least one meaningful employer encounter each year for seven years, from years 7 to 13, and at least one workplace experience by the age of 16, with another by 18. At least one encounter should be with a STEM employer. My noble friend Lady Bull may share my regret that there is no similar focus on the arts and creative sector, which is so valuable to the UK economy.
I would also like to see a stronger focus on using these encounters to promote apprenticeships, especially since reading that a recent report by the Junior Engineering Engagement Programme found that 68% of the young people that it interviewed do not know what an apprenticeship is—although, in another poll, two-thirds said they would be very or fairly interested in an apprenticeship. I regret the lack of any reference to SMEs in this part of the guidance, but there is at least one reference to entrepreneurial skills, which are also important.
Schools have often found it hard to engage with employers, particularly in areas with a limited number of suitable or willing businesses. Although the Careers & Enterprise Company’s role has since been broadened, it was originally created with a focus on improving links between schools and employers. Working with all 38 local enterprise partnerships, it is setting up a nationwide network of volunteer enterprise advisers, with a target of having one in every school by the end of 2020—over 2,000 are already in place. They come from a wide range of business backgrounds, large and small. It is too early to assess the results being achieved or the overall quality of people taking on this role, though they are already having some effect in increasing the number of employers that schools are working with and the number of encounters provided to students.
There are some exciting independent initiatives seeking to tackle the challenge of providing more employer encounters, often making innovative use of digital technology. Founders4Schools, for example, offers a work experience programme, Workfinder, which links teachers, students and employers in a way that enables students to organise their own work placements online, with guidance from their teachers. Many of the employers involved are innovative, successful and fast-growing SMEs, and the programme aims for wide national coverage. MiddletonMurray, an independent training and apprenticeship provider, has launched its own careers advice campaign, “Limitless”, with a series of podcasts entitled “iwant2ba”, in which Angela Middleton, its founder and CEO, interviews mostly young high-flyers in a range of different fields about how they got to where they are, in a format designed to appeal to young, technologically savvy people. They serve as valuable and much-needed role models—more of these are needed.
Online access to, and automation of, career education resources will surely become increasingly essential. Perhaps the National Careers Service website should include signposting to resources such as those I have mentioned. The NCS was set up in 2012, focusing mainly on providing tailored careers support for adults nationwide, including bespoke services for people with special needs, but it also provides career-related information for everyone, including young people, via a central website, which is due to be upgraded shortly as an engaging one-stop shop for all government careers information. This should be a valuable resource, although “engaging” is not a word I would often associate with GOV.UK websites—something rather jazzier may be needed to appeal to the young target audience.
I will end with three challenges I see facing successful delivery of the careers strategy, on which the Minister may like to comment. The first is funding, concerns about which are common to almost all the briefings I have received. The funding announced for training 500 career leaders and to support 20 careers hubs is welcome, but what support will be available to other schools, four-fifths of which are not covered by the career hubs, and when? What incentives might be offered to encourage schools to devote more effort to careers education? Could they perhaps be offered some funding contingent on their making a commitment to working towards and achieving the quality in careers standard? There is also likely to be a growing shortage of enough skilled careers professionals to meet the important eighth benchmark recommendation that every pupil should have at least one personal guidance interview with a qualified careers adviser by the age of 16, with the opportunity for another by age 18. How might training for these new careers professionals be funded?
The second challenge relates to delivery: how will the progress of the careers strategy be tracked? What indicators will be used to measure performance? What will happen if schools are not achieving their targets, or if too few employer encounters or work experience places are available, or if disadvantaged local areas are failing to keep pace? Careers-related provision is covered in Ofsted inspections but perhaps needs greater emphasis. The CEC is providing tools like Compass, and is looking at ways of assessing benefits for individual recipients of careers education. The main outcome indicators currently used are the impact of careers education on the number of people who are NEET, and data on the destinations of pupils when they leave school. These should be beefed up, with much better destination data, tracking not just what students do immediately after leaving school or college but how their careers develop over time, how much they earn, and how they feel about their lives and careers. I hope that the Minister will say something about how the overall performance of careers education will be monitored and assessed.
My final challenge relates to communication. Despite the good work of the CEC, the NCS and others, awareness of what careers education is about, why it matters, what it can offer, and how it relates to opportunities such as apprenticeships and T-levels is still very limited. An ongoing process of effective communication is needed, using the most appropriate channels, including online media and other technologies, and with strong case studies and role models, to reach those affected: parents—not least—teachers, school governors, large and especially small employers, young people, and everyone in employment who may find themselves facing or wanting a change of direction. This should be a positive, good news story, and we could do with more of those.
As I have discovered in preparing for this debate, careers education encompasses a wide range of issues. I am conscious that there are many I have not touched on, and I hope that other noble Lords may do so. But I am optimistic that a strong infrastructure is taking shape, with a clear and ambitious strategy in place to set the future direction. There is still a long way to go, but I trust that the Government will now maintain the necessary commitment and resourcing to deliver their world-class aspiration, with all the benefits it offers for individuals, the economy and society.
My Lords, I warmly congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, on securing this important debate. I share his optimism that this is an area where there is genuine change and development. I notice that former colleagues from another place are in the House: my noble friend Lord Deben and, in particular, my noble friend Lord Baker, who did so much to focus on careers in schools.
An exciting new framework is now in place. I have been rather stunned. I never believe a word any Government say—I assume it is all baloney; instead I go to my own sources and telephone people in the areas I care about to ask them what is really happening. I have therefore spoken to my former colleagues in a prosperous area in Surrey, but I have also checked up in the area where I have a particular commitment in Hull, and in the Isle of Wight, which is another area of significant deprivation and low expectation. Out there, and across the country, the new strategy is working. It is exciting, things are happening and people are engaged, and I have not met the customary cynicism. I agree that the branding is not particularly high but I am more excited by the activity on the ground.
In his maiden speech, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, described careers education as,
“the bridge from education to employment”.
I respect his comment, also from his maiden speech, that,
“what matters most is not what is guaranteed but what is delivered … delivery must cover all the skills, attitudes and expectations needed by our young people to make a successful transition into employment and worthwhile careers, to the benefit of our nation”.—[Official Report, 26/11/09; cols. 505-6.]
I am optimistic that that is what we are seeing at the moment.
I also have to make the link to our previous debate in which we discussed prisons and some of the severe problems in them. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester talked about giving people in prison a sense of hope. Of course there is no greater sense of hope for anyone in the prison institutions than the sense that there will be employment and opportunity in the future. I have worked closely with Working Chance, a wonderful initiative to help women in prison get work experience and job training so that when they leave the prison they can rebuild their lives and have active employment. Obviously, we are talking about schools, colleges and universities, but this initiative is so important for all sectors of our society.
This debate, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said, is particularly timely, because of the urgency of addressing our productivity gap, in the context of profound uncertainty around our exiting the European Union, and the rapidly evolving patterns of work and employment. The latest report from the Office for National Statistics on international productivity comparisons exposed a disturbing shortfall versus the rest of the G7. Britain’s productivity was revealed to be 22.6% lower than that of the US, 22.8% lower than France’s and 26.2% lower than Germany’s. A significant contributing factor is inefficiency in the allocation of workers to careers. The mismatch between the skills young people choose to prioritise during their education and the skills sought by employers results in inefficient deployment. Many industries struggle to find suitable labour; others place individuals with superfluous or irrelevant training in jobs for which they are overqualified. As we leave the EU, this issue of skills shortage will be all the more central; it is high time we looked at the talents and skills of all our pupils and students and helped them find worthwhile employment.
Even more significant is the whole disruptive change in the workplace. The Institute for the Future estimated that 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be invented. That is not some distant future—students who will enter the workforce in 2030 are already in school today. Britain and the rest of the world are experiencing disruptive change in the jobs market at an unprecedented rate. Cyber-physical systems, robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, additive manufacturing, fifth-generation wireless technologies and autonomous vehicles of the fourth industrial revolution all accelerate the transformation of our work environments and the skills required. I am afraid that, if I were required to have any of those skills or qualities, I would be on the employment scrapheap immediately.
We must ensure that our careers education and advice not only gives young people aspirations and prepares them to follow their goals but also supplies them with vital employability skills that are transferrable in an unpredictable jobs landscape where, above all, technology will be an underpinning, as my noble friend Lord Baker has long advocated. Patterns of work are moving away from the traditional “job for life”; young people will have to navigate their careers differently, expecting to change role more frequently than in the past. We have to prepare them for this changed world, regardless of social class, ethnicity or gender. We must look to every individual in society and see how they can make a contribution.
In discussing careers education, social mobility has rightly and understandably taken an ever higher profile. An essential component of any effective strategy for advancing social mobility is good careers guidance and education. This should begin as early as the primary stage. Careers education benefits pupils from all socioeconomic backgrounds, but the biggest difference is made to those in society who are less well-networked and less affluent. The education system needs to be strong enough to bridge the gaps in informal networks, to ensure greater equality in how young people set their aspirations and develop their awareness of the world of work.
One cannot overstate the advantage of informal networks—friends, family and colleagues. But it is evident to us all that the difference between the opportunities such networks offer to many in Surrey, for example, compared to those in the Hull Humber region, or perhaps the Isle of Wight, is stark.
Beyond simply making sure that all pupils have the knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions for their long-term career path, we need to invoke excitement and passion about what the future can hold. I enormously welcome the careers strategy published last December. There is no substitute for giving pupils hands-on experience in work environments; hearing, seeing and meeting have far more impact than simply reading.
I give great credit to a number of key women: the former Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan; the present responsible Minister, Anne Milton; the chairman of the Careers & Enterprise Company, Christine Hodgson, a formidable businesswoman; and the hugely talented chief executive, ex-McKinsey, Claudia Harris. These four women have made it their cause to ensure we see real results and put a practical careers strategy in place, and I will quickly give some examples.
Looking to the Humber, the Careers & Enterprise Company does wonderful work there. The Greenpower Education Trust, for example, has engaged local schools with STEM by challenging students to design, build and race electric cars. The University of Hull, where I am chancellor, played a major role, constructing on campus a “green power garage”—it funded over 30 cars and provided the tools and equipment. All this is achieved in partnership with the LEP, where the noble Lord, Lord Haskins, is chairman. Again at the LEP, two excellent women—enterprise co-ordinator Jenny Vincent and director of skills education and employment Teresa Chalmers—have really taken this to heart. They did so much in the City of Culture, with others.
I so welcome our new noble Baroness, Lady Bull, who I knew during my years as Secretary of State for Culture for the formidable and talented individual that she is. How right that skills and opportunities in the creative arts have so much to offer this next generation. I am excited about the progress being made by the Education and Employers task force, getting people with practical skills to teach careers education, not simply teachers; and I have huge confidence in the Gatsby benchmarks—at last, we have a measure to assess progress.
Getting Skills Right, the UK report by the OECD last year, found that 40% of British workers were either overqualified or underqualified for their jobs. Increasing the effectiveness of our careers guidance in education will enlighten learners to the paths for which they are best suited, allowing them to hone their subject choices and prepare for the world of work. We want people in work, fulfilling their skills and playing to their personalities—not feeling undervalued and resentful about their gifts and how they are being used.
My Lords, I am pleased to take part in this debate and I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, on securing it and on the way that he introduced it. His commitment to this area has served us well in previous debates. I am delighted that there is somebody who constantly puts this item on our agenda, and I thank him for that. I very much look forward to the speech from the noble Baroness, Lady Bull. The fact that everyone will say how much they are looking forward to hearing it will make her very nervous, but we know of her background and what she brings to this House, and I genuinely look forward to her comments.
I had made myself a note to say at the start of my speech that I suspected that no one would say that careers education had ever been as good as it should be or that it is as good as it should be now, but I have just been proved wrong by the previous speaker. I will not be as glowing as the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, about the state of careers education but I will try to share some of the optimism, because I think that work has been done over the last three to four years. I want to recognise that but I also want to raise some questions about where we are going and what the evidence is for that.
We have never got careers education right because we have never had the sort of society that indicates that we are getting it right. The fact that social class mobility is slower in our society than in our competitor nations shows that we are not giving opportunities to young people from all backgrounds. That there is such a big mismatch between the skills that a modern economy needs and the skills of our workforce shows that we are not getting something right. Whatever good has happened in the past, the evidence is that it has not been good enough to get this country and its people to where we want to be. However, I want to recognise some progress. We batter ourselves over the head and take away our energy and our ability to improve.
I want to make three points. First, we should look at the way that women—not all but many women—have more opportunities, do better in schools and aspire to jobs where, when I started teaching in the 1970s, the door would have been closed to them. That is an achievement. Secondly, we should look at the number of children and young people now taking maths and science A-levels in order to go into maths and science jobs. That is an achievement. Thirdly, I get cross when people moan about the increase in the number of people going to university, because they are from backgrounds where young people would not have gone to university in previous generations. That too is an achievement. Therefore, we can do these things but we have not done them as much as we should have done.
It is very difficult to deliver on those things. The north-east is what the Careers & Enterprise Company calls a cold spot. There is a figure showing that fewer children there go on work experience placements than children from other areas. Who is surprised that on Wearside and Tyneside and in areas further south, such as Hull, fewer children have work experience placements and meaningful encounters with employers? Therefore, it is not just about careers education; it is about the sort of society that we are. It is about how many mums and dads have the confidence to aspire for their children; it is about how much social capital we put into our communities; and it is about how many youth organisations there are, and so on. We should not just batter schools and careers education but ask deep questions about the sort of society that we are and that we need to be.
I think that there has been a problem in careers education and I take as much blame from my time as a Minister as anyone else. We dithered between a centralised and a devolved service. When I was a young teacher, I was also a careers teacher—it was one of the things that I did. In truth, it has never been high enough on anyone’s agenda. This debate has made me think back to my days as a careers teacher. I am not saying that it was brilliant then, because it was not, but I taught in a school in a local authority in Coventry that had a particularly strong careers service.
When I taught careers, we had something called a business-education partnership which co-ordinated the activity between schools and employers. Every one of my year 10 students went on work experience for two weeks. I did not have to organise that; it was organised by somebody working for the careers service. We had one and a half careers officers and one employment officer permanently based in our inner-city secondary school. If you said to the Careers & Enterprise Company, “Go and deliver that in every school next year”, it would say, “Come on, you’re joking”. Why did that service disappear? It was not because it was a failure or was not needed; it went because, when the cuts came, it was not thought to be important enough. If it is really important, you protect it when times are bad. In truth, we have not protected careers education.
However, we are where we are and I think that this bit of the revolution started in 2012. Increasingly I think that the Education Act 2011 was the most damaging Act for our education service for many a long decade. One thing that it did was to devolve careers education to individual schools. It broke down their partnerships and their relations—the bits that helped schools to deliver careers education. It required schools to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance. Just as the noble Lord, Lord Nash, in his time in the Department for Education, had to rebuild a fragmented schools system through multi-academy trusts and chains because devolution to individual schools did not work, so the noble Viscount who is now in charge of careers is having to rebuild that partnership. Leaving schools to do it by themselves does not work. That is the journey that we are on. We tried to mend the terrible damage done by the 2011 Act, so we started again rather than building on the sorts of experiences that were around when I was a young teacher in inner-city Coventry.
I have not changed my mind about this. You have to do three things. You have to give the kids knowledge about the opportunities. You have to give them the skills to understand and analyse themselves so that they know their strengths and weaknesses. Then you have to give them the ability to make effective decisions. You have to do all three things and, if you do, you get it right.
I suppose the Government will now say that the Careers & Enterprise Company and the requirement for schools to develop and publish a careers programme are the means to get that right. I congratulate the Government on bringing that forward. Given the damage of 2012 and the financial climate, it has not been easy, but we have to be tough on this because we cannot get it wrong again. However, I acknowledge that it is a good effort—people are trying and I think it is a government priority.
I want to say what I think is good. A positive thing that I absolutely applaud is the Gatsby benchmarks; I think they are great. I do not want to sound as if I am claiming credit, but they certainly cover the three areas that I have always thought were important. However, I challenge the Government’s and the careers companies’ approach. The eight benchmarks are a whole: you cannot deliver two and think you are improving. It is like teaching maths and saying, “We will teach you to add and subtract, but we will skip multiplication and division, and then say we’ve taught you arithmetic”. You cannot have one without eight, or two without six. I am worried that success is considered to be delivering two of the Gatsby benchmarks—9% using the Careers & Enterprise Company. That is not going to work. If delivering five or six Gatsby benchmarks is thought to be success, it is not going to work.
I turn to the Careers & Enterprise Company. I wish it well, but I worry about what it is doing. Having said that, I want to acknowledge that it delivers a very good programme in Birmingham, where I do some work. The company has set up the National Careers Service, enterprise co-ordinators, careers hubs, careers leaders, enterprise advisers and links with higher education—all at a time when we are redefining apprenticeships and introducing T-levels. That is all right if you are sat in a quango in London, but if you are a busy teacher at a school in Hull or the north-east or anywhere else, it is a minefield to understand. I worry that the Careers & Enterprise Company has spent too much time, money and effort on constructing a structure and not on delivering it. I will be honest: we can talk about its little projects, but I suspect that the projects named by the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, were existing charitable organisations that are now being funded by the CEC. They are not things that the CEC has made up and brought to the table—that is not what it does.
I finish with a list of questions for the Minister about the CEC. Is it driven nationally or locally? It sets up local structures, but I do not know whether it is a nationally or locally driven organisation. Is it a grant giver—it does give grants—or is it meant to be developing a strategic plan for the whole nation? Is it universal or is it targeted? Is it required to reach every child and young person, or will we settle for just a touch in the cold spots? Is it meant to be leading the development of careers teachers and leaders? I do not know about that or about defining success.
Finally, if we think about ourselves, what helped us was a decent, broad and balanced education. If I think about how I got my ambition to go into politics, what I loved most at school—I did awful at school—was not the lessons but the debating society. That is what inspired me. I was also encouraged by the teacher who had the time in the school week to talk to me and tell me I could make it, not in the careers lesson but just in the time that seemed to be available in those days. Are we absolutely sure that we are providing schools with the time they need to do things beyond their statutory careers education?
My Lords, I start by declaring my interest as a patron of Careers Connect and vice-president of the Local Government Association. I thank all those people who have sent briefings, particularly Gateshead College. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for securing this important debate. He said he was looking forward to hearing the experiences of Members of this Chamber. I think we all have experiences in careers. All of us had to apply for a job at some stage, and we know the pitfalls that that entails. We also have children, and we want them to get good jobs and have a career. Actually, although we talk about careers, most young people talk about a job. They do not talk about careers any more, and maybe we need to reflect on that.
Like the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, I am optimistic. The careers strategy is probably one of the best I have ever seen for developing careers education in schools. I went to the All-Party Group on Education, where the Minister talked about the strategy. I was impressed that she had a real understanding and grasp of what needed to be done. On every single question, she was very positive and committed.
Having said all that, it is not just about having a strategy, as good as that strategy is. It has to be about changing our mindset. What do I mean by that? My experience of careers education was: “Here’s a cupboard full of university prospectuses. Go and choose which university you want to go to”. Perhaps schools these days think that we ought to have a member of staff responsible for careers education. But who do they give that job to? Invariably, it goes to the person with the shortest timetable and who has spare time—it might be the French teacher or the PE teacher. Here, I must declare an interest. My wife was a PE teacher and she drew the short straw. She had no training and no experience, it was just, “Could you do careers advice, please, Mrs Storey?” That is no way to develop careers education in a school.
The other problem is this: head teachers want their pupils to go into the sixth form. The number of pupils in the sixth form is seen as a mark of the success of the school. Why? Because every pupil who goes into the sixth form comes tagged with a sum of money—the more pupils in the sixth form, the more the budget is. Actually, for the majority of pupils in many schools, going into the sixth form is not the answer. Probably, a vocational course is the answer—and God forbid that they should go to a further education college. It is very important that we change that mindset.
We have to realise that careers education is not just about strategies and changing the mindset. Sadly, it also has to be about resources. In the cuts of 2010 and 2011, we gave responsibility for careers education to schools but took out of the budget £196 million. Those resources have not reappeared in schools.
In opening—that was my opening—I also look forward to hearing the contribution from the noble Baroness, Lady Bull. I am sure it will be uplifting.
The word I want to use is “students”, although I would prefer the term “every student”. Every young boy and girl begins to dream of what they would like to be when they grow up. At a young age, they also begin to form an opinion of what they do not want to do. That is why careers education, in its broadest sense, should begin in primary schools, and it is easy for primary schools to do this.
When I was a primary school teacher, we invited parents from a whole range of professions to come and talk to the children. We used a carousel or speed-dating system, and, suddenly, the children’s perception of the world of work changed. We are not allowed to show things in the Chamber, and quite rightly so, but a wonderful careers game has been developed by a not-for-profit company in Milton Keynes. Do noble Lords know the game of Top Trumps? Well, this version is on careers. Children can look at every career and at how much you earn, what training is needed and how you go about the job. You can see primary school children in the playground playing Top Trumps Jobs—it really works.
People should also be given the opportunity at a young age to go and visit a factory floor or an office and talk to people there. You learn more—the sponge is readier—when you are nine or 10 than when you are 14 or 15. That is hugely important. Also at an early stage, children need to know what is possible and equally what is not. Playing for Liverpool in the premiership or in the Women’s Super League is not a realistic ambition for 99.9% of schoolchildren, nor is being on “Big Brother” or “Love Island”, thank goodness. They need to know about the range of jobs that they can aspire to—one far greater than when any of us was thinking about our future.
This is where every child matters. Although secondary schools have a statutory duty to provide independent careers advice, evidence points to the fact that both the amount of careers advice and the quality of it is not good in all schools. Five years ago Ofsted’s inspection of careers education found that only one in five schools was providing adequate careers advice. This is due to budget constraints to some extent but it is also perhaps about school indifference. Parents who can afford it—and I guess that is many of us here—make sacrifices to do what is best for their children. There is no shortage of independent careers advice available: you just need to search the internet. In addition to paying for one-to-one advice, for an additional fee the adviser will help to write your CV. For the sixth-formers, they will give one-to-one careers advice and guidance—this is often a critical factor in raising the ambitions of young people.
Why is careers advice so vital? It is democratising and promotes social mobility. Good, impartial, student-centred careers advice has the potential to be transformational, offering people the chance to realise their potential whatever their background and attributes. Good careers advice often makes the biggest difference to students who might otherwise not get it. A good careers adviser can equip a young person with the right information to take the best decisions in their own interests. At a vital time in children’s development, good careers advice should inform, motivate and inspire the next generation. Professional input is vital because some students do not have the support of parents or their parents may be out of touch with the modern world of education or work opportunities. Parents who went to university may have an unconscious prejudice about the relative merits of technical routes and a suspicion about what they may see as inferior options. Parents who have never worked will have no first-hand knowledge of the world of work or the range of careers available.
Finally, we are all familiar with government rhetoric about social mobility and the burning injustices that prevent young people reaching for the stars. We also know that these fine words have not buttered a single parsnip. It is now much less likely that a girl or boy from a working-class background will become a lawyer or an accountant—two examples where jobs are principally available to sons and daughters of partners in those firms. As a primary teacher I followed the careers of my pupils with interest. Although it was a working-class area, I can count lawyers, nuclear physicists, doctors, teachers and even an actor among the children I taught. High-quality careers advice was crucial in helping them reach their goals. I am grateful for this debate and I hope we learn from everything we hear.
My Lords, I will endeavour to meet that edict. I too welcome this debate and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, on securing it and introducing the issues so comprehensively. I am looking forward to the maiden speech that follows. The noble Baroness, Lady Bull, brings huge experience to our House and I join in the warm welcome that has been given to her.
I have the privilege to chair your Lordships’ Select Committee on Communications, which has a remit to consider the media and creative industries. My contribution today focuses on careers advice for the creative industries, but it probably has some wider application.
The committee has produced two reports in recent years, which considered skills in the theatre industry and in the advertising industry respectively. The creative industries are an increasingly important part of the economy and are likely to be even more important in the future because creative jobs are highly resistant to automation. Automation will change whole industries. It is estimated that up to half of all existing jobs could be automated in the next 20 years. That is not just jobs in manufacturing and transport. Jobs in many professions will be taken over by the robots in the not-too-distant future. We are therefore fortunate as a country to have a world-leading, economy-driving and life-enhancing creative sector, just at the time when it will be critical to the economic future success of nations.
Darren Henley, CEO of Arts Council England, in an excellent account of why creativity matters gave us the superlatives—the fastest-growing sector employing 2 million people and exporting £20 billion worth of services. Sir Peter Bazalgette, in his review of the creative industry, convincingly estimates that the sector could add 1 million jobs by 2030.
So what does this have to do with careers advice? If the industry is thriving and creating jobs, surely it will attract the people it needs. The advertising industry that we studied does have a challenge. It is a global business. To continue to thrive globally, it needs to be diverse and to attract the very best talent in a whole range of roles. It needs young people with a fusion of artistic and science skills and young people who can use those skills in a creative environment. Therefore, it needs to offer these exciting, secure roles to the most talented people from all social backgrounds. A properly diverse workforce is both essential to the business model for our creative industries and it is the right thing for our country.
The industry and the wider sector have taken effective measures to increase diversity on screen and off, but there is much more to do. Social class remains the biggest barrier to entry, as so many industries, hollowed out by AI and automation, will not provide the jobs of the future. The jobs that will be nourishing, rewarding and enduring in the creative industries cannot simply be available to middle-class recruits. What needs to be done? It needs to start in schools. First, the Government are right to champion the promotion of STEM skills and focus on the digital skills gap, but in the modern workplace, employers are looking for a fusion of science and artistic skills in young people who can use those skills creatively. It is these blended science and art skills that will enable young people to thrive. I hope that my noble friend will recognise the importance of this rounded education in state schools and accept the important point that teaching arts subjects and the soft skills that come with them is not just for artists, writers and performers but an essential component of an education that will equip young people for the roles of the future.
Secondly, we found that recruitment practices must change. More outreach and more welcoming environments are needed if companies are to have a truly diverse workforce that reflects Britain today. In particular, we call for an end to unpaid internships. Thirdly and very importantly, in our report on the advertising industry and in the evidence that we received in our inquiry into the UK theatre industry, we saw a real issue with the quality of careers advice in schools and in universities too. In too many schools, roles in the creative industries are simply not on the agenda when teachers help students to choose subjects or university courses, select apprenticeships or identify employment routes. The vice-chair of the National College of Creative and Cultural Industries told us that there is a complete lack of awareness of the careers available in the creative industries.
There is also a perception problem. Pursuing a career in the creative industries is considered risky and in some cases inferior to careers in medicine, accountancy or law. This is a particular problem for parents from poorer backgrounds, as pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Storey. Young people, teachers and parents need to be made aware that these jobs exist and are good jobs. They also need to be shown how to access such jobs. Careers education needs to begin at a young age and continue through university.
In addition to the core creative roles, the creative industries rely on a surprising range of jobs, such as engineers, technicians, project managers, accountants and roles that require digital and analytical skills. Not enough young people who would like to pursue a career in one of these roles are made aware of the opportunities for them in the creative sector. Data roles are found in our advertising industry and are crucial to its future, but we found an inclination among students with these qualifications to be nudged in the direction of more traditional IT industries.
Understanding the breadth of roles in different sectors is important. When we looked at this problem, particularly through the prism of the advertising industry, we saw an important role for not just government but the industry. We welcome the Government’s commitment, which I hope my noble friend the Minister will affirm today, to provide resources for career advice at all levels of education. We call for more resources to ensure that pupils get meaningful interaction with potential employers well before they choose their GCSE subjects and start to close down their options.
We saw a significant role for the industry too—an advertising campaign, in fact. We called on the advertising industry to provide tools to schools with a view to introducing pupils, parents and teachers to the roles available in the industry and reaching out with many more visits to schools. But the industry could go further. The advertising industry and other commercially successful industries in the creative sector depend on the overall success of the wider sector. They should consider launching a significant and well-resourced initiative to promote careers in the sector to pupils from all backgrounds and provide the resources to do the job well and comprehensively. We have the great fortune as a country of being well prepared for the post-automation age with a thriving creative sector. It must now, in its own interest and that of society, step up and give meaning to “opportunity for all”.
My Lords, it is a great honour to speak here for the first time and to follow such a passionate and cogent case for the creative industries from the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert of Panteg. The welcome I have received from all parts of the House could not have been kinder. The support from Black Rod, the Clerk of the Parliaments, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, and all their staff has been invaluable. At every turn, I have had cause to thank the omniscient and omnipresent doorkeepers and I have already benefited from the excellent service of the Library staff. I am indebted to my supporters, my noble friends Lady D’Souza and Lord Hall of Birkenhead, and my noble friend Lord Clancarty for acting as my mentor and meeting all my questions with patience and sound advice. I also pay tribute to the late Baroness Jowell, who did me the great honour of supporting my nomination to join this House.
My route here has been somewhat unconventional. For 20 years, I was a dancer with the Royal Ballet. I progressed, via a career in the media, to the Royal Opera House, where I became creative director. I then went to King’s College London, where I serve as vice-principal for London. I now have the great privilege of joining your Lordships’ House. Mine may well be an unusual career trajectory but this life of careers, in contrast to a career for life, could well prove the norm for young people in future. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Aberdare for securing the debate and allowing me to make my debut on this stage on a subject that is so close to my heart.
As we have heard, good careers guidance is about so much more than helping young people to get a job. It is about an individual’s well-being and fulfilment. It is about meeting the needs of future employers and ensuring the success of the economy. It is about reducing the costs on society of people not in employment or training. Crucially, it is about equality and fairness: we are all created equal but we are born into a world that is not.
Our ideas about what we might do in our adult lives are shaped by our experiences and by the examples around us. If you are brought up in a community where the majority of employment, where it exists, is in low-skilled sectors, your expectations are likely to be shaped accordingly. How else can we explain the fact that in 2017 only 4% of doctors, 6% of barristers and 11% of journalists came from working-class backgrounds? We know that just 24% of pupils eligible for free school meals go on to higher education, compared to 42% of their peers from better-off families. Over a quarter of this gap in participation relates to students with the same levels of attainment at GCSE, so this is not a question of academic ability but of the choices that these pupils perceive as being available to “people like us”.
For this reason, good careers advice is of disproportionate value to pupils from disadvantaged families. It does not just open doors—by exposing young people to a variety of previously unimagined professions, to self-employment or entrepreneurship as a viable career, it reveals that those doors exist. It connects students with individuals who have themselves broken the mould—people whose lived examples help to raise aspirations, tackle stereotypes and challenge choices that may be based on gender, ethnicity or class. This is why I take part in Robert Peston’s excellent Speakers for Schools initiative, which puts inspirational speakers into state schools. It was set up in 2011 when he noticed that all the invitations he received to speak came from independent schools.
In addition to this important role in enabling social mobility, good careers guidance is vital to help young people navigate the changing employment market, and to ensure that the skills they gain during education match the needs of the jobs that they will go on to fulfil. Now, more than ever, it is very difficult to predict what the future of work will be. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of pupils entering primary school this week will find themselves working in a job that does not yet exist. One of the key skills they will need in order to thrive in this uncertain future is creativity—the capacity to imagine and then to invent the roles that they themselves will fulfil. Too often, creativity is seen as the preserve of artists—of people like me—but it is as important to the scientist or the engineer as it is to the musician and the dancer. The world’s most pressing challenges will never be addressed by technology alone, but when creativity is employed to imagine how machines can best serve human needs, the results can change the world. It is notable, and no coincidence, that many of our leading tech entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley CEOs are graduates, not of science and maths but of arts and humanities. All the evidence shows that arts-based learning is key to developing the creativity that drives innovation.
Much airtime has been given to STEM subjects in discussions about looming automation, but with machines set to take on the more routine elements of work, human skills such as creativity will be at a premium. The global innovation foundation, NESTA, has concluded that creative occupations—not just artists, but roles that depend on a high degree of originality and the production of new artefacts and ideas—will be much more resistant to automation than other jobs. And they are likely to grow: workforce projections used in the industrial strategy suggest that creative jobs will grow at double the rate of the UK economy as a whole over the next six years.
I know that it is not the business of a maiden speaker to court controversy but, given everything we know about the future of work, can it really be controversial to challenge the prioritisation of STEM subjects in the otherwise laudable Gatsby benchmarks that the Government’s 2017 careers strategy adopts? The statutory guidance issued in January encourages schools to arrange meetings with a range of professionals that,
“should emphasise the opportunities created for young people who choose maths or science subjects”.
Why only these, when we know that creativity will be such a vital skill, and that creative occupations will be the most futureproof to computerisation?
Mine was an education in which careers advice had no part, focused as it was, from the age of 11, on a singular destination. I was among the 1% who the noble Lord, Lord Storey, alluded to: I dreamt of becoming a ballerina and I became one. I come from a family with no history of participation in higher education but I had the benefit of powerful role models in my parents, to whom I am eternally grateful: a mother who was determined that her four daughters would imagine a world beyond our own backyard, and a father with the courage to enter further education at the age of 30, moving a young family from Derby to Kent to take up his hard-won place at Rochester Theological College. I also had the inestimable benefit of an education in which arts and culture were never considered as secondary or an inferior choice.
I promise not to fulfil a role in your Lordships’ House as some kind of cultural “Thought for the Day”, inserting arts or creativity into every possible debate. But if I look back over the journey that has brought me here today, it is clear that what has sustained me in a career beyond the arts are the skills I learned through an education in which arts were integral: collaboration, communication, originality, resilience and creativity. These are exactly the skills that the Federation of Small Businesses is calling for in future employees and they are the kind of skills that NESTA predicts will be most in demand in 2030.
Given all this, we surely need to recognise that any advice that fails to position on equal terms careers in both STEM and creative occupations can never be considered either high quality or fit for the future.
I am honoured to have had the chance to contribute to this debate and I look forward to working as a part of this House on this and many other issues.
My Lords, it is my great privilege to be the first to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, on her really excellent maiden speech, and to welcome her to our debates.
I have only one complaint about what she said: she said pretty much all of what I wanted to say and said it all a lot better than I am likely to say it. I therefore apologise in advance for not matching her eloquence. It is, however, a huge personal delight to be the first to speak after her, because I met the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, 20 years ago for the first time at the Royal Opera House, where she was at the height of her very distinguished career as a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet. I am sure I am not the only one among your Lordships who remembers the power and eloquence of her performances, both in the classical ballet repertoire and in the many roles that she created with contemporary choreographers. However, nobody then—or since—could be in her company for long without realising that there is a great deal more to the noble Baroness than her consummate artistry. Her wider influence, and her skill as an advocate for the arts—which she has just demonstrated—began to be felt through the writing, broadcasting and lecturing that she started while she was still dancing.
After she retired in 2001 she turned her demonstrably formidable energy and intelligence first to creating the artist development initiative at the Royal Opera House and then to leading ROH2, which did so much to open up the Royal Opera House to new influences. Since 2012, as she told us, she has led the cultural institute at King’s College London, where she is now vice-president and vice-principal.
Most of us never manage to be exceptionally good at even one thing. The noble Baroness has demonstrated through her career that she is exceptional in everything she undertakes. She showed in her speech today the same power and eloquence that she once expressed on stage, and we are extremely fortunate to have her with us.
I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, on securing this debate, and, like the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, and the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, I will focus on the creative industries and particularly on the theatre. As I said, I apologise in advance for repeating things already said very forcefully by other noble Lords. In doing so I must declare an interest as the deputy chair of the board of the Royal Shakespeare Company. I must also record particular thanks to Jacqui O’Hanlon, the RSC’s inspirational director of education, who frankly has forgotten more on this subject than I shall ever know and provided me with excellent briefing for this debate. I make no apology for having digested quite a lot of it wholesale into my remarks.
It is of course encouraging that the Government have launched a careers strategy for schools and we have heard many signs from other speakers of optimism about how it might improve things in the future. It is good that there are criteria and a timeframe for it to be delivered, but please let us not forget the immense pressure that schools face to meet all the new expectations put on them while also struggling with reducing budgets. It is also vital, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, said, that the strategy should not concentrate solely on the STEM subjects with which the Government are so preoccupied. Guiding young people towards a career is challenging and always has been, but particularly now because, as the noble Baroness remarked earlier, the World Economic Forum assessed in 2016 that 65% of young people in education today will go on to work in jobs that have not yet been created.
In such a fluid situation the need for students to develop flexible, adaptive, collaborative skills, along with an ability to think critically and independently, has never been more important. These skills, which studying creative and arts-based subjects crucially help to develop, are precisely those which employers of all kinds say are most important to our future prosperity. How sad then that these subjects are being increasingly marginalised in maintained schools, as recent statistics show all too clearly. It is also sad that, as the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, said—I declare a further interest as a member of the Communications Committee of your Lordships’ House, which I may say he leads brilliantly—employment opportunities in the creative sector itself are not well understood in most schools, so students are not being helped to recognise them.
DCMS figures reveal that 6% of all UK jobs are now in the creative industries. The sector has many self-employed freelancers and micro-businesses. Getting a job can often mean creating your own, rather than working for one of our national arts organisations, and career pathways are not always predictable. The sector is diverse, as are the qualifications necessary for industries that include craft, design, music, film, performing arts, cultural heritage, galleries and tourism —of course, all the areas in which digital skills are now so vital. But this diversity is not a bad thing; it is absolutely necessary if the entrepreneurial innovation and ambition which we will rely on more than ever in the coming decades is to thrive. Any careers strategy must include a commitment to sharing knowledge of the opportunities in the creative industries. This will require close co-operation between the Department for Education and DCMS. Can the Minister tell us how that is coming along?
We also need the cultural sector itself to make concrete connections between its education and outreach work and career pathways into the industry. This is already happening in some places: the RSC’s “Next Generation” talent and career development programme is a good example. It targets young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, recruited from schools across the whole country with which the RSC is in long-term partnerships, and offers them opportunities to work with the RSC both onstage and backstage. This can be a life-changing experience for the young people involved, for the sorts of reasons already mentioned by other speakers. These are to do with how little contact many young people have with any sense that these industries might be a place in which they could aspire to work. I hope the Minister will agree that encouragement and resources from government to allow other organisations to follow suit with this kind of programme would be an excellent investment in our future.
Lastly, the Motion tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, refers to “all students”. Jacqui O’Hanlon reminds me that in talking about career opportunities, we must not forget those with special educational needs and disabilities. Current employment rates for young people with additional learning needs are very low, taking in only 4.9% of those who would like to work. Here again the RSC is on the front foot with a pioneering programme of supported internships, developed with one of its partner schools, Woodlands in Coleshill, which has resulted in 61% of participating students getting into paid employment.
Other organisations are also doing amazing work. I take this opportunity to mention, as I have several times in your Lordships’ House, the astonishing achievements of Chickenshed in north London, an inclusive theatre company that has been going since 1974. Some noble Lords may have heard the founders talking about it with Sue Lawley on “The Reunion” last Sunday on Radio 4. Chickenshed welcomes into its theatre groups children and young people of all abilities aged from five to 21, and creates wonderful productions in its purpose-built theatre. If time allowed, I would tell your Lordships about “Stig of the Dump” and “Mr Stink”, but I am afraid I will have to save that for another time. However, Chickenshed also runs educational courses in inclusive performing arts at BTEC, foundation degree and BA levels, and many of its graduates go on to have careers in the arts. It is a shining example of how involvement in the performing arts can transform not only the lives of young people but the perceptions of audiences.
The cultural sector in all its diversity offers opportunity and hope—“hope”, today’s watchword—for the future. Let us ensure that it is not overlooked as the Government’s career strategy develops.
My Lords, I share with the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, whose wisdom I have been delighted to receive this afternoon, the fact of belonging to a family where there was no prior history of higher education. The only careers advice that I received at school as a working-class boy from south London was to read extra Latin in the sixth form—and look what happened.
Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Storey, as a priest of my generation I have never applied for a job; I have always been sent. When I was a young priest, I was invited to take up a university chaplaincy. I went to see the Bishop and waved this at him and he said, “No, you’re going to Sunderland”. I said, “Well, I should consult the family”, and he replied, “If you mean the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, I’ve done that. You’re going to Sunderland”.
So I am all the more grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for calling this important debate and to join in support for the Minister in all that he is seeking to undertake in delivering the strategy for careers education. However, we need to understand that any strategy will survive only if it lands well in every place. It is quite an uphill struggle, as the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, was saying. The June Public Accounts Committee report suggests that careers education around the country is “insufficient and inconsistent”. It is not only a lack of quality; it means that there is a lack of opportunity in the provision of careers education, which fundamentally flouts the notion of equality and access and social mobility for all young people—for all the students that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, refers to.
The Church of England Vision for Education issues a challenge to the Church and the rest of the educational community to seek the flourishing of every child and young person through and beyond the education system, regardless of their socioeconomic or family circumstances. At the heart of the vision is hope for all young people and the dignity of every young person, with no one to be written off.
However, the State of the Nation 2017 report from the former Social Mobility Commission draws a stark picture of exclusion and disadvantage. The east of England, where I serve, is not the most affected area, but the report highlights the denial of social mobility to young people in isolated rural communities and in coastal towns, which are very much characteristic of my region. There is a shortage of specialist teachers and sparse access to employers. The report is very firm in saying such areas are dire for youth social mobility outcomes.
The provision of goods careers advice, frequent interaction with employers and labour market preparation of students at school and college are vital. Regional universities such as Anglia Ruskin in my diocese and the University of Lincoln, which is not so far away, are working hard at building on all these connections. I understand that Lincoln, in particular, is noted for its contribution to economic regeneration and job creation. No doubt, the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, will have more to say about that.
We need the fullest possible rolling out of the careers strategy, given that some of the targets and target dates have already passed. One of those targets has been to ensure that schools give providers of technical education and apprenticeships the opportunity to talk to all pupils. Yet research from the Sutton Trust, published in July, indicates that less than half of young people have had the opportunity even to discuss doing an apprenticeship. It also found that more than 60% of teachers would rarely or never advise high-performing students to opt for an apprenticeship over a traditional university course. It is nigh on impossible for a young person to make an informed decision about their future if the careers advice is incomplete or biased.
Students use their own enterprise to research online and it is not helpful if the only outcomes taken note of are about earnings. This is important because we need to encourage young people to aim at those professions which do not have the biggest pay cheque, such as in health or education and across the third sector.
I hope that we can have a pattern of careers education and advice which is available to all—not limited to one form of employment or reputation of employment, but an opportunity for all to prosper. Hope for all young people and the dignity of all young people should be our watchwords.
My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to follow the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely, who has done so much for Church schools.
I welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, to your Lordships’ House and congratulate her on an excellent and moving maiden speech. It is wonderful to see people who have been so successful in the world of the arts joining your Lordships’ House. We have little in common in our backgrounds—I have been a philistine businessman all my life—but I know that we share a birthday.
I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for securing this debate. I am delighted to see that careers education finally seems to be taking a real leap forward. As the noble Lord said, this is thanks to the work of the Careers & Enterprise Company. I join my noble friend Lady Bottomley in congratulating and thanking my previous boss, the right honourable Nicky Morgan, for starting this initiative. I pay tribute, as my noble friend did, to Claudia Harris, who so ably runs the CEC, and to Christine Hodgson, who chairs it so well. As the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said, Ofsted has recently reported some encouraging news, and the CEC has reported an improving picture across the eight Gatsby benchmarks which are so central to the Government’s career strategy.
It has been generally accepted wisdom for some time that the old-fashioned concept of careers counselling on its own was, for most pupils, a fairly ineffective way of giving careers advice. The best impact was through engagement with the world of work on active projects. McKinsey’s pan-European study some years ago showed that. The Education and Employers task force, which does such great work, has also shown that four or more encounters with the world of work mean that students are 86% less likely to become NEET. When one discusses young people’s experiences as a result of active involvement either in the workplace or with people from the world of work, one sees their eyes literally light up. It gives them a direct line of sight to the workplace and an understanding of why their studies are so important—indeed why they are at school at all.
As the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said, the CEC is now in partnership with all LEPs. It has created a network of more than 2,000 schools and colleges and 2,000 business volunteers to ensure coherence in the way employers and schools engage with each other. That coherence is so important: co-ordination between employers, schools and colleges.
The noble Lord, Lord Storey, referred to the old-fashioned, part-time, unqualified careers adviser or careers teacher. I have long believed that, for this coherence and connection to work well, there needs to be one person in each school whose focus is on this and nothing else. Individual schools may find it hard to find the money for this, but the payback would be substantial. Some of them may find the money from local businesses to pay for such a person to help that co-ordination. In my experience, I have never found businesses slow to come forward once you ask them, but often they just do not know how to engage.
In my multi-academy trust, we have a central person responsible for what we call educational enrichment, which covers a wider range of extra-curricular activities: in careers, engaging with a host of industries, work experience, speakers, work and university visits and engaging with all those charities which provide free help to schools on careers, such as Business in the Community, the highly successful Business Class, Speakers for Schools, which the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, mentioned, Primary Futures and Outward Bound trips.
We particularly like to send our students on trips—for instance, one of our primary school classes went on a trip to Rome this summer—and on Outward Bound courses, because taking pupils out of their home environment greatly enhances their world-view. Studies in the USA have shown consistently for many years that such activities achieve the highest in building children’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
It is essential that schools focus on characteristics such as this—what the Sutton Trust calls essential life skills. Some call this character education. However it is described, it is so important. Indeed, Harvard has said that it is as important as academic qualifications. Characteristics such as resilience, teamwork, creativity, emotional intelligence, presentation and social skills have become even more important in the modern world, as our young people spend far too much time gazing at smartphones. These characteristics can be developed only by engaging in a broad range of activity delivered through extra-curricular activity and, in my schools, an extended school day.
Of course, the best way to help a student’s career is to give them a good education. Schools must always focus on giving their pupils a broad, knowledge-rich curriculum, that cultural capital, that world-view, which is particularly important for children who come from less advantaged backgrounds—homes where there are no books, for instance—because this greater knowledge and wider world-view substantially enhances students’ thinking and social skills. It gives them not just more to think about but more to talk about.
The noble Baroness, Lady Morris, in an, as always, inspirational speech, referred to work experience. I particularly mention the work of the Social Mobility Foundation, so ably run by David Johnston, which organises work experience for young people who do not have those parental social connections.
I share my noble friend Lady Bottomley’s optimism. I think we are seeing the beginning of a sea change in careers education, and I hope it will now go from strength to strength.
My Lords, I add my congratulations to my noble friend Lady Bull on her excellent and inspiring maiden speech. In declaring my interest as co-chair of the All-Party Group on Modern Languages, I want to use my contribution to this important debate to highlight the specific need for careers education and advice to convey the enormous and increasing value of language skills to school leavers and graduates as they make their career choices. This advice must also start early enough for school students to have the opportunity to choose one or more foreign languages among their GCSE options. This means getting focused and well-informed advice during or before year 9—before option choice deadlines kick in, as the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, pointed out.
The other element of this debate which I want to stress is the reference to all students. It is often wrongly assumed that studying foreign languages is just for the brightest students, but I will show how beneficial they can be for anyone, at whatever level, and how better integration of language learning throughout all stages of education could have a game-changing impact on social mobility.
Languages can be the gateway to wider career choices, either as a specialist linguist or in any other role where an ability to communicate in another language is an asset. Foreign language skills are in use in practically every sector in the economy, with higher than average demand in the financial services, IT and telecommunications, passenger transport, fashion and design and hotel and catering industries. They are in use at all levels in the workforce, not just senior management. In fact, the greatest skills gaps are among administrative and clerical staff, and those working at elementary grades. All that is before we even mention the need for languages and linguists in diplomacy, defence and security.
Lack of language skills in the UK workforce is costing the economy £48 billion a year, or 3.5% of GDP. Yet only 36% of business leaders say they are satisfied with school leavers’ language abilities, and the British chambers of commerce say that the UK’s languages deficit is adversely affecting our ability to build export growth. As many as 96% of the companies they surveyed said they had no foreign language capacity. In the British Academy’s Born Global research, companies spelled out that lack of language skills creates operational problems, including client dissatisfaction and supply chain difficulties.
Google Translate can help only up to a point. Human beings, not algorithms, are needed to communicate accurately, fully sympathetically and creatively. In the light of all that, I warmly welcome and applaud Her Majesty’s Government’s recent investment of £4.8 million in the new MFL hubs to boost language skills and the number of linguists. I would appreciate some further information from the Minister on how the effectiveness of these hubs will be monitored and assessed. For example, will they be required to have formal links with the careers hubs that we heard about from my noble friend Lord Aberdare and others?
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages has heard evidence from employers who are unable to fill graduate posts because of a lack of language skills, and they are resorting increasingly to overseas recruitment to meet their needs. Even for the specialists, the supply chain is shrinking dangerously. There are now fewer MFL graduates than there are vacant posts in secondary schools. Yet, with the extremely attractive language teacher training scholarships of £27,500 now available, teaching is a very strong career option for an ambitious languages graduate.
Employers more generally have consistently said how much they value graduates who have had some international and cross-cultural experience, usually by taking a year abroad as part of their degree course, which is an option not only for linguists but for all students. This underlines how important it is that the UK remains a full participating member of the Erasmus+ programme after Brexit, and I should be grateful if the Minister could update the House on where the Government currently are on this vital detail of the Brexit negotiations, which will undoubtedly have an impact on the future employability of our young people. Research has shown that Erasmus students are 23% less likely to face unemployment than those who have not taken a year abroad.
It is also important that we reverse the current trend for foreign language skills to become the preserve of a privileged educational elite. Languages up to age 16 are compulsory in 70% of independent schools but in only 16% of state schools. Despite the incentive of the EBacc, a worrying number of schools are now shrinking key stage 3 into two years, with the result that more and more children in the state sector are denied the benefits of compulsory language teaching after the age of only 13.
The White Paper earlier this year on the industrial strategy recognised regional disparities in the UK’s skills base. Low take-up in foreign languages correlates with regions of poor productivity and low skill levels overall. For example, in the north-east in 2016, only 43% of pupils sat a GCSE in a language, compared with 65% in inner London, and this gap has been widening year on year. We also need Her Majesty’s Government to build languages into their plans for technical education. The National Retraining Scheme for targeting skills shortages is welcome; can the Minister say whether modern foreign languages could be considered as a skill shortage in the next phase of this scheme?
One route to mobility is the language industry itself—I do not mean just interpreters, translators and teachers, but researchers, people who write textbooks, apps, CDs and websites, people who do subtitling and dubbing for films and TV and all manner of other experts. It is estimated that this industry is worth over €20 billion across the EU and has a very high growth rate. As an English-speaking nation, we are uniquely well placed to take strategic advantage of this expected further growth, not only in Europe but worldwide. I hope that our careers service and careers advisers would regard it as part of their responsibility to ensure that our young people get their fair share of the prosperity on offer in this sector. I am also aware of a proposal for a sector deal for the tourism industry, which acknowledges that language skills are vital for increasing the value of inbound tourism and hospitality. Specifically, it says that,
“language skills are an essential business requirement and a significant element of providing good customer service”.
Whether they have sights on being a highly skilled and trained interpreter for the UN, or a hotel receptionist whose work can be greatly enhanced by a conversational ability in another language, all our students, at school and university, deserve to be better informed and better equipped to function as successful members of society in a global labour market and in a country which aspires to leadership in international trade, defence and diplomacy. This means acknowledging that, in the 21st century, speaking only English is as much of a disadvantage as speaking no English. Our careers services and advisers must reflect this and encourage all students to seize the opportunities that an ability to use another language will certainly give them.
My Lords, I am sure that we can all say amen to the noble Baroness and those final remarks of her excellent speech. We are all very much in the debt of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for choosing this subject, introducing it and saying some extremely sensible and cogent things, but I suppose that we will all go away from this debate with one particular memory, that of the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Bull. She speaks against a multi-career background, as the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, reminded us, and she will bring a new breadth and depth to our debates, particularly on the creative industries and the arts. We are grateful to her for what she has said and much look forward to what she will say in the future.
I have been thinking as I listened to this debate of a speech I heard a very long time ago; it was my first full day in the other place, way back in June 1970. In the debate on the Loyal Address, John Nott, the Member for St Ives—I forget whether he was proposing or seconding—used some words that I have never forgotten: that the real poor of the 20th century are those without hope. It is even truer in the 21st century. The whole purpose of a good education is really to give and sustain hope as well as to impart knowledge. We must be very careful about compartmentalising things, because a good education can be given only at a school where the pupils have instilled in them a sense of community, a sense of partnership and a sense of vocation—even if it is not taken to the extremes that the right reverend Prelate suffered when he was given his marching orders by his first bishop. It is sad that he cannot give similar marching orders to some of his clergy—but that is a totally different subject.
The right reverend Prelate referred to the University of Lincoln, and I happen to be a member of its court. It is a remarkable university which in 20 short years has achieved a degree of national prominence and international recognition. One of the reasons for that is the one alluded to by the right reverend Prelate. The University of Lincoln sees itself as at the heart of the community. Although it serves that community, it has students not only from all over the nation but from all over the world, including a sizeable contingent of students from China. What it does, in the aspects of its work referred to by the right reverend Prelate, is to work closely with local schools and businesses. When I talked about a sense of participation, community and working together, I had that very much in mind.
This is a co-operative thing. A noble Lord referred earlier to careers education taught in schools. You cannot teach careers education; you have to co-operate with those who provide employment around the area, and you have to be able to communicate to your students—I speak as one who over 50 years ago had responsibility for this—that there is a world outside. If they do not remain in their immediate locality—and these days few do so for a very long time—you have to point where they can go. You have to work closely with those who are proficient in industry, the arts and commerce, and that will be particularly and increasingly important as we move through this complex 21st century.
Never lose sight of the home base. In Lincoln, the home base is simplified and exemplified by our glorious cathedral. That cathedral, which is one of the greatest in Europe, and indeed in the world, was built centuries ago by those who came from all over Europe—dare I say that?—with their craft skills to create something of permanent and enduring worth, just as some of the very same people did in Ely, not all that far away.
One of the things we are in danger of losing sight of, in our near-obsession that every student is a failure if he or she does not go to university, is the enormous, rewarding nature of a career in the crafts. It is as richly fulfilling to have played a part in creating or sustaining a great building—part of what I hope is our imperishable heritage—as it is to bring to life the music and the skill of choreographers on the stage of a place not far from here. We are not devoting sufficient time to apprenticeships and what true apprenticeships ought to be.
I have the honour to chair a body, under the auspices of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, called the William Morris Craft Fellowship, which I helped to found over three decades ago. We give awards to young men and women—and I am pleased to say many of them have been women, some of them bricklayers, some stonemasons, some woodworkers—who have demonstrated real potential, not only for perfecting their own craft, but for a certain managerial ability to take charge of a site over others. The word “apprenticeship” has been devalued in many ways over the last few years. We should do all we can to encourage young people to realise that this is a richly rewarding career. You cannot work adequately with your hands unless you have a reasonably good head on your shoulders. I very much hope this will not be lost sight of by those who have responsibility for careers education.
I want to make two other brief points. First, careers education should not be concentrated within a single school. Bringing schools together across a city or county and sharing in the expertise available—not necessarily to each one but collectively to them all—is a sensible way forward. My other point is that I would not wish to outlaw unpaid internships; that slightly takes issue with my noble friend Lord Gilbert, who made a splendid speech, Of course young people should not be exploited, but every year, for the past 35 years, I have received in the Palace of Westminster a group of American students who come here to learn about our system as part of their course, without being paid for it; we would not want to lose that.
My Lords, I want to intervene briefly, not to say something about language skills—I will not do that, as I agree with every word said by my noble friend Lady Coussins—and not just because I want to tell my grandchildren that I once carried a spear on a stage adorned by the noble Baroness, Lady Bull. I want to draw attention to a June report by the Economic Affairs Select Committee of your Lordships’ House, chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth. As a member of the committee, I draw noble Lords’ attention to two paragraphs of the report. The first deals with the problem of how to ensure parity of esteem among all forms of higher and further education—a problem on which the noble Lord, Lord Baker of Dorking, has spoken wisely and eloquently down the years.
Paragraph 254 of the Select Committee report says that:
“The prioritisation of the undergraduate degree in schools, through the use of incentives and targets, has helped fuel perceptions that other routes are inferior. Schools must present all post-16 and post-18 options as equal. Incentives aimed at schools which encourage them to promote sixth form and university should be removed. Every pupil aged 16 should spend one day learning about apprenticeships and how to apply for them”.
Since I feel as the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, does about apprenticeships, I do not think one day is nearly enough. I strongly support the thrust of the report.
Secondly, on the issue of how to help the young navigate a career, paragraph 260 of the report points out that:
“There is a clear and well understood process for university applications which is not available for other forms of post-school education. The process for students considering routes other than university should be clearer and less complex. There is merit in a single, UCAS-style, portal for covering all forms of higher education, further education and apprenticeships. The Government should ask UCAS how such a portal could be designed and implemented”.
I strongly support that.
I am not quite as optimistic as some have been in this debate, such as the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley. I see the glass as only half full but I think that it would be relatively easy to fill it and I would be very interested to know the Minister’s reaction to the two suggestions made by the Economic Affairs Select Committee.
My Lords, I add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for introducing this debate, and I acknowledge his commitment and expertise, as well as the very comprehensive way in which he introduced the debate. The importance of this subject is reflected in the excellent briefings that we have received from a very wide range of people and organisations. We are most grateful to them for engaging with us, as we are to the Library for its briefing. We have heard enthusiasm for this topic from all sides of the House.
I add my congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, on her inspiring maiden speech, which particularly highlighted the need for social mobility. Her expertise will be warmly welcomed in this House and we look forward to hearing from her on many occasions.
If we are sharing our own careers advice, I should tell your Lordships that an adviser came to my girls’ school and said, “Well girls, a few of you will go to university, so we don’t need to worry about you. Most of you will get married, so we don’t have to worry about you. The rest of you can think about being a teacher, a nurse or a secretary”. It was truly empowering.
Good careers education and advice is essential if young people are to find work that matches their skills and aspirations. We face an acute skills shortage, which will be much worse without EU workers, so this is crucial for the country as well as for individuals. However, for many years we have lacked a cohort of professional careers advisers who can open young people’s eyes to a range of work opportunities. If, from very young, they can see work which matches their skills and enthusiasms, not only does school work start to look more relevant but they gain self-confidence, especially where academic work is not their forte.
I entirely endorse the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, the noble Baronesses, Lady Bull and Lady McIntosh, and the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, in eloquently supporting the creative industries. They are enormously important. As a fellow linguist, I also entirely agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, when she says that language learning is very important in gaining a proper and broad vision of careers.
We know that young people gender-stereotype work from a very young age. Boys are seen to be good for engineering, business and construction and for becoming doctors; girls for caring, hairdressing, nursing and teaching. Well-paid industrial jobs are for the boys and the lower-paid service sector is for the girls. But of course skills and aptitudes are not gender-based. We have some brilliant women engineers and entrepreneurs and brilliant men hairdressers and teachers. All options should be open to all. It is vital to break down these stereotypes from the earliest years and to encourage young women in particular to see the rewards of careers in engineering, construction, the police and fire services, flying and many other walks of life which are heavily male dominated. Language in this area is important. We need to be sure that we talk about firefighters and police officers, not policemen and firemen, and to make it quite clear that engineering is not all about greasy overalls, nor construction all about muddy fields. There are great and very varied job opportunities for girls as well as for boys.
I do not think that there has ever been a golden age of careers education and advice, but we did once have dedicated professional careers advisers, who are now a dying breed, as the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, set out. Government policies mean that schools have too many pressures to channel pupils into the academic routes which gain them kudos and funding. Teachers will generally themselves have followed academic routes and they are unlikely to have the time or expertise to set out the skills needed to be a builder, a pilot or a chef, where vocational rather than academic skills are more important than GCSEs and A-levels. The dreaded pressures of GCSE and A-level bedevil those skilled and able students whose inclinations take them towards practical, work-based qualifications.
Non-academic skills such as empathy, resilience and communication have been proved to lead to better well-being, higher academic attainment and greater employability. The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, talked about these wider skills. What are the Government doing to encourage schools to develop such non-academic skills in their students? Government policy needs to encourage young people into work which suits them, rather than being pushed towards inappropriate university degrees.
Last December, the Government produced their Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential plan. This was aimed at boosting skills and confidence to make the leap from education into work, raising career aspirations and building a new type of partnership with businesses to improve advice, information and experiences for young people. It aimed to improve social mobility through education and reduce attainment gaps between disadvantaged children and their affluent peers. There has been much mention today of social mobility, including from the right reverend Prelate. God certainly moves in mysterious ways, but He does not seem to consult much.
We have seen the national collaborative outreach programme encourage progression to higher education in areas with lower levels of participation, which raises the question of whether greater support is needed to engage and inform parents and guardians of the post-16 educational opportunities available. Enabling better social mobility is at the very heart of good careers advice. By the way, we should not forget careers advice in universities. We tend to concentrate on schools, which are vitally important, but at university often people have not sorted out what their careers are going to be and advice at that stage is also important.
As we have heard, there is a growing need for STEM skills, but not at the expense of creative skills. Will these plans increase student encounters with STEM employers, including SMEs, to encourage greater interest among pupils? Does greater attention need to be paid to the quality of teaching to ensure that children are well prepared to pursue a career in STEM subjects?
The careers strategy and the statutory guidance which followed in January have been welcome moves by a Government who have not shown much interest in careers for some time. In July, I asked a question of the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Agnew, who was due to respond to this debate but has delegated it to the noble Viscount. I trust he was not frightened off by his somewhat inadequate answers to my questions about careers advice for primary school children, but of course we welcome the noble Viscount in his place. I agree with my noble friend Lord Storey about the excitement and effectiveness of the Top Trumps game for children, although Top Trumps may not be the most appropriate terminology in this day and age.
I pointed out in my Question that the National Association of Head Teachers, to which about 98% of primary head teachers belong, has over the past five years developed a brilliant programme, Primary Futures, which has attracted international recognition—it even gets a mention in the DfE’s careers strategy. It gets volunteers from the world of work to go into schools to inspire and motivate children and open opportunities for them.
The Minister replied that the Government had chosen to ignore the professionals and instead give £2 million to the Careers and Enterprise Company to replicate this work in order to extend the Gatsby benchmark programme. With great respect, I ask again why the Government are not throwing their weight behind the NAHT’s brilliant programme and helping it to be rolled out across primary schools in the country. The programme has been developed by people who devote their professional lives to enhancing opportunities for young people. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Nash, who once upon a time was my noble friend—happy days—in welcoming the CEC. The company benefits from many teachers’ advice, but the NAHT is exclusively teacher and pupil-based and really knows what is best.
We hear from the British Youth Council that work experience has been one of their main concerns. Work experience hubs for 11 to18 year-olds was the number two issue in the 2017 Make Your Mark consultation and was debated in the House of Commons in November 2017. What progress is being made with these hubs?
The Youth Select Committee, a British Youth Council initiative, has raised many concerns about the idea of quality work experience, the role of careers advice and the disparity and provision based on where young people live and the type of school they attend, their household income, and the connections—or lack thereof—of their parents. It is important to address all these things.
The Careers and Enterprise Company has a real task ahead of it. It needs to act, and act fast. What progress has been made in the rollout of enterprise advisers in schools and what impact are they having, particularly in disadvantaged schools? Does the CEC have plans to trial and identify what works in careers advice for pupils from lower socioeconomic backgrounds? Surely it is time for a powerful national strategy, with national support for good, professional careers education and advice. Our young people deserve no less and the country needs it.
My Lords, I start by paying tribute to what I regard as an outstanding maiden speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Bull. It was powerfully delivered, containing wisdom, perception, humour and—which I particularly liked—a determination right from the start of her membership of your Lordships’ House to hold the Government to account. I predict that her name will become one of those that makes noble Lords hurry to the Chamber when they see it on the annunciator—and I shall be one of them. I feel a sense of some shame that I did not include in my speech the need to highlight to young people careers opportunities in the arts and culture sector, as the noble Baroness and my noble friend Lady McIntosh did.
Not for the first time, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has done your Lordships a service by securing this important debate and, as ever, introducing it so effectively. The workplace is changing and careers advice must change with it. In fact, there must be a change from careers advice to careers education, which of course are not the same thing. With the likelihood that as many as a third of jobs could become obsolete over the next 20 years, more must be done to ensure that learning is targeted at the skills needed to deliver success, not just at the personal level but for the UK economy as a whole. As various noble Lords have said, including the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, and the noble Lord, Lord Storey, it is about “jobs” not “careers”. The changing world of work will necessitate several changes of job, and possibly career, with consequent upskilling and reskilling. Learning, therefore, will and must become lifelong.
Careers education should be a means of improving social mobility by encouraging young people to embrace careers and areas of work that they might not otherwise consider. In their careers strategy launched last year, the Government rightly argued that improving careers education was especially important for students from working-class backgrounds.
The Government had earlier recognised the huge mistake of devolving responsibility to schools by establishing the Careers & Enterprise Company in 2014. To some extent, that continued when they agreed to accept the so-called Baker clause in the Technical and Further Education Act 2017. It requires that all state-funded schools and academies in England allow the providers of technical education and apprenticeships access to pupils to inform them about these routes into employment. But this has not been universally welcomed by head teachers. Some colleges have reported that, on the basis of responses they receive from schools they approach to speak to students—or perhaps more importantly, the lack of them—it is difficult not to draw the conclusion that the careers advice offered is often limited and selective and, as I said, too often it is careers advice and not careers education. Colleges also say that because schools with sixth-form facilities remain heavily incentivised by government to retain their students, this has had a direct knock-on effect on the breadth of careers education offered. They also report that, since the introduction of the Baker clause in January this year, there has been little, if any, positive difference in access granted.
At a time when schools are struggling with increasingly limited resources, these are often focused on areas of a pupil’s development that are directly reflected by accountability measures, at the expense of other areas that are equally crucial for a young person’s future life chances, such as good-quality careers guidance. Such an environment surely will not help to advance the Government’s careers strategy.
That strategy has been generally welcomed, and I am on record as saying that it provides a firm basis on which careers education can be developed. It provided for the Gatsby benchmarks to be included in the updated statutory guidance for schools and colleges published at the start of this year, and it listed actions to be taken by this month. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has detailed those, so I will not repeat them.
In July, the Secretary of State announced the names and locations of 20 careers hubs. This announcement was welcomed by the Association of Colleges, although it seems that the central fund for these hubs would be equivalent to only £1,000 per school or college. I ask the Minister: is that really enough to make a meaningful difference? The hubs are co-ordinated by the Careers & Enterprise Company, whose representatives I met last week to discuss their work to bring about progress after the recent stagnation in careers education. They initially identified the so-called cold spots that define where young people most need careers support, and they update these statistics each year. Their enterprise adviser networks and enterprise co-ordinators are already having an effect, and the careers strategy handed the Careers & Enterprise Company increased responsibility in the delivery of the Gatsby benchmark standards for careers provision.
I thoroughly agree with my noble friend Lady Morris that only the achievement of all eight benchmarks should be regarded as meriting success. All schools are supposed to have achieved these by 2020. It will, to put it mildly, be interesting to see what the position is in two years’ time.
The Careers & Enterprise Company provided progress reports, including on a steady rise in the number of schools meeting the eight Gatsby benchmarks. It would be helpful if the Minister could say what percentage of schools and colleges have now met all eight benchmarks, as well as how many have met this month’s deadline for providing website information on careers and the appointment of a careers leader.
The introduction of careers leaders, tasked with driving forward a careers strategy in every school and college, is welcome. However, they will be funded by each establishment and so will be part of the culture. It is arguably unrealistic to expect them not to exercise some bias in their approach to student retention. There is evidence of schools with dedicated careers staff being told by their senior management not to engage with volunteers from the business sector. That smacks of head teachers being more concerned with their own careers than those of their students. It is an attitude problem that the DfE needs to root out, and quickly.
I referred to lifelong learning earlier, and that is central to any meaningful response to meeting the country’s future economic challenges and opportunities. The appeal of earning while learning for younger learners is increasing. It is essential that schools’ career leaders make the young people they are offering guidance to aware of alternative styles of post-school learning. For instance, among 18 to 20 year-olds distance learning, two-year degrees, evening degrees and degree apprenticeships are all gaining in popularity.
This is at one end of the student age scale, but much can be achieved at the other end. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said that SMEs could be more involved in careers education. The Federation of Small Businesses is a strong supporter of, and a contributor to, careers education as part of the curriculum in secondary schools. But that organisation also recognises the need to target careers education at primary school pupils. That is why it works with Primary Futures, an alliance formed by the National Association of Head Teachers and the charity Education and Employers.
I sat through the entire debate thinking it was really strange that no one had mentioned Primary Futures or primary schools and then in the speech immediately prior to my own, the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, did just that and stole my thunder. None the less, Primary Futures carried out research showing that young people start to rule jobs in or out when they are as young as seven, specifically around gender stereotypes, with the patterns of jobs chosen by seven year-olds remarkably similar to those selected by 17 year-olds.
Primary Futures aims to broaden horizons and raise aspirations for primary school children by involving volunteers from the world of work. It is now accelerating its rollout to engage up to 50% of primary schools across England, providing the opportunity for over 250,000 pupils to access volunteers from the world of work. I echo the call from the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, that the Government should be looking at supplementing the finance provided by the National Association of Head Teachers and Education and Employers to Primary Futures because of the very important and effective work it already carries out.
I conclude with an issue raised by several noble Lords during the debate. I asked the Minister to set out how the Government will measure success in their careers strategy. Clearly this will be a process, with the initial steps taking effect this month. They are important, but how will the Government monitor progress in careers education and how will they deal with schools that continue to resist attempts to refocus their priorities from routes to higher education to apprenticeships and other opportunities that will be vital to the economy in the future?
More work is required if the Government are to achieve to their goal, as stated in the careers strategy, to support everyone, whatever their age, to go as far as their talents will take them and have a rewarding career.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for securing this important debate. I declare an interest. I spent much of my career working in human resources in industry and the City of London and have worked as an executive search consultant and as a recruitment adviser.
There is little more important than young people being given the right careers advice. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, described it much more eloquently: it helps them to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, to build confidence in themselves and to understand that there is a world of work waiting for them that offers many great opportunities. We must inspire young people and help them understand the arts and science pathways which offer equally fantastic careers that will allow them to spread their wings beyond their home area, as my noble friend Lord Cormack mentioned.
That is why we are so lucky to have with us for this debate the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, who gave such an excellent maiden speech. Like the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, I have been fortunate to have attended several performances at the Royal Opera House when the noble Baroness held starring roles as a ballerina. If that background were not enough as a shining inspiration for people to take up careers in the performing arts, she continues to lead and influence the cultural sector in higher education and in the wider community. Today, she has highlighted the importance of creativity and I am certain that the House will benefit much from her wisdom, experience, knowledge, energy and perhaps, as she alluded to, actions rather than thoughts in the future.
The noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, explained the importance of language skills in an increasingly global labour market. I can confirm that we announced the names of the schools that will lead the modern foreign language hubs on 3 August and will announce further details this autumn about how we will monitor their work. We are also conducting a range of pilot initiatives that will inform the policy development and final design of the National Retraining Scheme. As we move into a post-Brexit economy, languages will become ever-more important in ensuring that we can compete in the global marketplace.
The noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, asked for an update on ensuring that the UK remains a full member of Erasmus+. The UK is open to exploring participation in the successor scheme and we are considering carefully the Commission’s proposal for the next Erasmus programme. We will continue to participate in discussions while we remain in the EU. The decision on future UK participation in Erasmus will be decided as part of the future partnership negotiations.
Whether in the arts, sciences, modern foreign languages or another area of interest, we want everyone to understand that there are different routes into work and how to plan their steps to get there. We recognise that people may experience several careers in their lifetime, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, mentioned, and that learning is a lifelong experience. The House will know that we have had two recent debates on this subject.
Let us look first at our successes in taking action to improve the careers system. In 2012, we gave schools a duty to provide independent careers guidance for all 12 to 18 year-olds, and I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Baker of Dorking, who was here earlier but is no longer in his place, who more recently proposed new legislation that requires schools to allow technical education and apprenticeship providers to talk to pupils about what they can offer. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely mentioned the lack of awareness of apprenticeships. Perhaps I can reassure him a little: there is work to do on this, but the Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for Schools programme went into over 3,000 schools in 2016 to inform and inspire young people.
Also in 2012, we established the National Careers Service. The service offers face-to-face support for adults, particularly if they want to develop new skills or retrain. Careers information is also available through a website and helpline for people of all ages. In 2014, Ofsted published a report that identified employer engagement as the weakest aspect of careers provision. In response, the Government established the Careers & Enterprise Company, much mentioned in today’s debate, to work with schools and colleges to build relationships with local businesses and employers. I am pleased that there is general support for the CEC, particularly from the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and from my noble friend Lord Nash. I am pleased that he is with us today.
The noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Yardley, raised several points about the role and purpose of the CEC. I could give her quite a long answer, but the short answer is that the CEC’s priority is to build infrastructure and develop relationships on the ground through its enterprise adviser network and funded activities. The focus is on tailoring the offer locally with resources focused on the areas of greatest need—so-called cold spots, which again have been mentioned today. The company set up a new enterprise adviser network. Senior business volunteers help schools and colleges to build relationships with more employers, drawing on their business experience and contacts. The noble Lords, Lord Aberdare and Lord Watson, spoke about the lack of reference to SMEs. I can give some reassurance that 42% of enterprise advisers are in fact from small businesses.
The noble Baroness, Lady Garden, asked what progress the CEC has made with the enterprise adviser network in schools and what impact it is having. I can tell noble Lords that that the network is supporting over 46% of schools and colleges in England and will support all of them by the end of 2020. An independent evaluation last year found that each school and college in the network is working with three new employers on average. They range from multinational firms to local small business owners. For example, Dale Power Solutions in Scarborough, apprenticeship employer of the year, is one of hundreds of employers supporting local students to increase their employability skills. This can include mentoring and help with online applications—which I know are challenging for young people—CVs and interviews.
The noble Baroness, Lady Garden, also asked whether the company trials and identifies what works in careers advice for pupils from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. As the House knows, social mobility is an important cornerstone. The company has developed a model to help us to understand which parts of the country are most in need of support with careers activity provision—now known as cold spots, as I said. I assure my noble friend Lady Bottomley that this funding extends to areas such as Hull, Humber and the Isle of Wight, where the company is funding a number of excellent organisations to support disadvantaged young people, including the Prince’s Trust, Young Enterprise and EngineeringUK. This approach is helping the Careers & Enterprise Company to focus limited resources on areas of greatest need. All programmes are evaluated to improve our understanding of which interventions are most effective.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, mentioned the need to raise awareness of careers strategy and what is available through the CEC. I agree that this is important. The CEC has run a series of roadshows for schools and has an annual conference, which I did not mention to the right reverend Prelate earlier. The company has awarded £13.7 million through two rounds of an investment fund, which has delivered over 24,000 career-related activities across the country that are having a clear benefit on the work-readiness of young people.
We have laid the foundations for an effective careers system but we recognise that there is more to do. It is good that experienced people such as the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, keep holding the Government’s feet to the fire on this subject. In 2016, the ASPIRES study found that fewer than two-thirds of students in year 11 said that they received careers education. Of those who did, just over half were satisfied with the careers education they received. Clearly more needs to be done, which is why the Government published a careers strategy in December 2017.
The noble Baroness, Lady Bull, asked about the impact of future skills on careers guidance. Our careers strategy is a long-term plan. It is vital that individuals have access to high-quality labour market information on new and emerging industries to help them make informed choices. It has been mentioned that the choice of jobs will change substantially in the coming years.
The noble Baroness, Lady Garden, rightly identifies softer skills such as communication, resilience and empathy as essential for careers. Employer mentoring is an effective way of developing these skills. The CEC supported the “Make the Grade” programme to deliver employer mentoring to over 7,700 participants, 88% of whom reported that this increased their confidence and motivation. Jobcentre Plus advisers work with schools to offer young people an insight into the softer skills needed for the world of work and advice on traineeships and apprenticeships.
As mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, the careers strategy has been developed in partnership with Gatsby, a charitable foundation set up by the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury. It has developed eight Gatsby benchmarks, which define an ambitious framework for careers guidance that works for schools, employers and, most importantly, young people and their families.
The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, made the point that we must not forget those with special educational needs and disabilities. We welcome the fantastic work of Chickenshed, and the Government agree that we must make sure that those with special educational needs get the support that they need. The careers strategy announced a £1.7 million fund to test new careers approaches in this area.
The careers strategy asks all schools and colleges to adopt the benchmarks and meet them by the end of 2020. Gatsby funded a pilot with 16 schools and colleges in the north-east of England to look at the impact of putting the benchmarks into practice. At the start of the pilot in 2015, no school or college achieved more than three of the benchmarks. After two years, 87.5% of the schools and colleges were reaching six to eight of the benchmarks. The north-east pilot set a model for local delivery of the Gatsby benchmarks and showed what progress can be made with good leadership and a clear sense of purpose.
Our careers strategy will spread that good practice across the country, with an expanded role for the CEC. The company is setting up 20 new careers hubs. Up to 40 schools and colleges will build networks with universities, training providers, employers and careers professionals to improve careers guidance in the regions. A hub lead will co-ordinate activity. To answer the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Watson, we believe that this is enough at the moment, but we will certainly be keeping our eye on the numbers. Hubs will receive a share of £1.25 million to spend on careers and employability activities.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, asked about funding for schools not being in the careers hubs, but there are other funding streams available, including through opportunity areas and local enterprise partnerships. Many careers organisations are also offering free resources that schools can access.
In addition, the north-east pilot found that every school and college needs a careers leader who is responsible and accountable for the delivery of the careers programme. That is why we have also asked the CEC to work with providers to develop training for careers leaders. The Government’s careers strategy made £4 million available for at least 500 places, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said. He asked, though, with only 500 careers leaders’ bursaries, how extra demand might be met, if needed. An online careers leader training package will be made available, which I hope provides some reassurance.
My noble friend Lord Nash highlighted the research from the Education and Employers task force. We expect secondary schools and colleges to provide every young person with at least one employer encounter per year and a further, first-hand experience of the workplace before the age of 16, in line with the requirements in the Gatsby benchmarks.
I can reassure the noble Baronesses, Lady Bull and Lady McIntosh, and my noble friend Lord Gilbert that we expect young people to meet employers from the creative industries. The Careers & Enterprise Company has enterprise advisers from employers including Galleries for Justice, Rising Arts Agency and Shakespeare’s Globe. Our commitment to cultural and creative industries can also be seen in our significant investment, spending almost £500 million between 2016 and 2020 to support a range of music and arts education programmes. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, in particular, will say that we have more to do; it is certainly something that we will keep an eye on.
The Gatsby benchmarks include an expectation that every young person should have a personal guidance interview by the age of 16. This can help them to make significant study and career choices, or offer vital support for job applications and interviews. The work of the Career Development Institute, the single UK-wide professional body for the careers sector, is raising the status and profile of the careers profession—an important point to make. It produces excellent resources to help schools and colleges, including a commissioning guide and a UK register of careers professionals.
We recognise that parents can influence the career choices that their children make—something I do not believe was raised in today’s debate. It is a work in progress, but we want to bring all government careers information into one place—a one-stop shop, if you will. That will help parents with older children to research the different ways to pursue a particular career.
The noble Baroness, Lady Garden, and the noble Lord, Lord Storey, spoke about primary schools and careers. They will know—I think I have mentioned it before in the House—that Australia is looking at starting careers advice or guidance at the age of eight. The noble Lord, Lord Watson, spoke about Primary Futures. Australia may be right: this is obviously not formal careers guidance, but I think we should look at what they are trying to do. It is important that, in line with parents, primary schools work closely to decide what is best, what is right and appropriate at that stage. I agree with the concept that we should start careers education at primary school. We want children at that stage to be encouraged to think about the world of work and to understand the link between learning and their futures.
The noble Baroness, Lady Garden, asked about the role of Primary Futures. We are working with the charity Education and Employers task force, which helps to run Primary Futures, to test and evaluate new approaches to understand what careers activities work well in primary schools. The noble Lord, Lord Storey, asked about careers guidance at primary schools. The Government, to go further on this point, are investing £2 million over two years to support our agenda on primary careers provision.
Much was said in this afternoon’s debate about monitoring progress: it was raised, in particular, by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and by others. We will be monitoring the progress that schools and colleges make in meeting the Gatsby benchmarks and improving their careers programmes. The CEC will publish an annual report on how well, or not so well, thousands of schools across the country are doing against every benchmark. Ofsted will continue to assess the quality of careers guidance when inspecting schools and colleges, and we now include data in school performance tables on the destinations of young people after leaving education or training. Outcomes are important, and this data shows how well schools are preparing young people for adult life. Noble Lords will know now much importance I put on outcomes at university level, but we think it is just as important at school level.
We believe that the careers strategy is bold and ambitious, and I hope that in this respect we are at least “sustaining hope”, in the words of my noble friend Lord Cormack. It is good to have broad support from a number of Peers on this. My noble friend Lady Bottomley, and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, were sufficiently supportive to say that they think we are going in the right direction. I am, however, the first to say that there is more to do. We are already seeing signs of progress: in June, Ofsted highlighted improvements in careers provision in schools. We must build on this. As the noble Lord, Lord Storey, said, we must give every young person the inspiration to find the career that is right for them, and advice to help them plan their route there. We must equip every young person with the skills to perform well in an interview and the attributes they need to succeed in the workplace.
The noble Lord, Lord Kerr, raised a couple of points on the Economic Affairs Committee report. I realise that he is on that committee. I can reassure him, without giving a direct answer to those points, that we will have a debate on the report and the Government’s response, though I cannot provide a date.
In conclusion, if we can transform the careers support that we offer to young people in this country, we can help them achieve the futures they deserve. Our economy will benefit and we will truly become a country of opportunity for everyone—something we all so want to happen.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, which I have found highly instructive and enlightening. I join the chorus of congratulations for the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, who more than lived up to her star billing, and I look forward to many encores. I also thank the Minister for a typically thoughtful and comprehensive response to the debate. I was particularly delighted with the emphasis placed by several noble Lords on the importance of the arts and creative sectors—which is not to downplay the importance of STEM but to make sure that we do not forget that the arts and creative sectors are important, if not equally important.
I will not try to summarise the debate—I will be cut off in my prime if I do—but I ended up more encouraged than not. I am not quite sure whether the glass is half-full or half-empty, but I sense that it is beginning to fill up rather than empty out. I am amazed by and in awe of the stamina of the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, who has put her name down to speak in three of this afternoon’s debates and has evidently done all sorts of research into maiden speeches before this one.
I end by saying, as someone apparently did say in a maiden speech a long time ago, that what matters most now is that we move from promises—very encouraging promises from the Government in their careers strategy—to delivery. We need to focus now on delivering against the targets that the Government have set, while recognising the very important and valuable points that so many Lords have made. I beg to move.